NFL power rankings: Evaluating Las Vegas Raiders after Jon Gruden fallout

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The AFC West is one of the two best divisions in football, and its teams were top of mind when I sat down to do this week’s power rankings — mostly because of Jon Gruden’s abrupt resignation as Las Vegas Raiders coach.

The Raiders played their worst game of the season over the weekend in a 20-9 loss to the Chicago Bears, when it seemed clear something else was on their mind.

News reports surfaced last week of a racist email Gruden sent disparaging NFL Players Association president DeMaurice Smith, and on Monday another batch of offensive emails came to light.

Jon Gruden on the sideline during a game in September.
Jon Gruden on the sideline during a game in September.

Gruden’s resignation leaves the Raiders in limbo heading into this week’s division game against the Denver Broncos, and I struggled where to put them in my rankings. On one hand, the distraction of keeping Gruden around has been eliminated. On the other, it’s not easy playing for an interim head coach.

I kept the Raiders just outside my top 10, believing they are closer to the team that won their first three games than the one that struggled to find the end zone Sunday, but knowing I could be proven wildly wrong this week.

The Broncos have an identical 3-2 record and the NFL’s No. 2 scoring total defense, but they still feel a bit fraudulent having beaten the sad-sack New York Jets, New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars for their three wins. They’re in the same NFL middle class as the Raiders, just at the bottom of that group.

Birkett: Dan Campbell is biggest reason to believe in Detroit Lions rebuild

Lions-Vikings stock watch: Rookies Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, Amon-Ra St. Brown shine

The division's other teams, the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, remain two of the 10 best teams in football, though the Chiefs have not played like Super Bowl contenders this season.

Kansas City has problems defensively and injuries are beginning to mount, but I’m not ready to write off Patrick Mahomes yet. All three of the Chiefs' losses have come to teams in my top eight, and they are about to enter a favorable stretch of games where they should be able to string together wins.

The Chiefs do not have much margin for error if they are going to catch the Chargers, who are the class of the division and one of the top two teams in the AFC right now. Justin Herbert continues to make Lions fans regret their team passing on him in the 2020 NFL draft, and I fear that feeling will continue for a long, long time.

On to the rest of this week's power rankings:

1. Arizona Cardinals (5-0)

2. Los Angeles Rams (4-1)

3. Buffalo Bills (4-1)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (4-1)

6. Green Bay Packers (5-1)

7. Dallas Cowboys (4-1)

8. Baltimore Ravens (4-1)

9. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is chased by Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) in the second half of the Chiefs' 31-9 loss in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 7, 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is chased by Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) in the second half of the Chiefs' 31-9 loss in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 7, 2021.

10. Cleveland Browns (3-2)

11. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)

12. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2)

13. San Francisco 49ers (2-3)

14. Carolina Panthers (3-2)

15. Tennessee Titans (3-2)

16. New Orleans Saints (3-2)

17. Minnesota Vikings (2-3)

18. Chicago Bears (3-2)

19. Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3)

21. Denver Broncos (3-2)

22. Washington Football Team (2-3)

23. New England Patriots (2-3)

24. Indianapolis Colts (1-4)

25. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

26. Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

27. Miami Dolphins (1-4)

28. New York Jets (1-4)

29. New York Giants (1-4)

30. Detroit Lions (0-5)

31. Houston Texans (1-4)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5)

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Power rankings: Jon Gruden is out, what it means for Las Vegas Raiders